If what you crave is lasers for daysers, then the Fire Prism is the tank for you! Click to read the CA2018-updated article, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
The Eldar are masters of all kinds of laser weaponry, especially the members of the Craftworlds- from infantry weapons such as those carried by Swooping Hawks all the way up to the much-feared Bright Lance and Scatter Laser mounted on heavy vehicles, no other race makes as much use of coherent beam technology as the Eldar. The Fire Prism sits as the pinnacle of such technology (not counting relics such as the Deathstalker), using an array of crystalline focuser and condenser arrays to create a piercing beam of unprecedented power that can shear right through even the heaviest of armor and scour the enemy from cover with pinpoint precision.
Fire Prisms come on the standard Craftworld vehicle chassis; a 16″ move makes them quite speedy and able to keep on the move easily (especially in combination with Fly) and toughness seven, twelve wounds, and a 3+ save make it defensively on par with the battle tanks of most other factions in the game. It similarly has a pretty mediocre set of melee stats (S6, A3 or less, WS6+), but that will hardly matter at all given its role and nature. Finally, BS3+ (degrading in the usual fashion) means that it is about as accurate as its attacks as you’d expect from the faction. Clocking in at a base 160pts with standard equipment, Fire Prisms are pretty affordable even when taken in multiples.
Wargear and Special Rules
The Fire Prism, being a vehicle, lacks most of the Craftworlds special rules, although it does have Explodes and Hover Tank (meaning you measure ranges to its hull rather than base) like most units of its type. More importantly, however, it comes with Pulsed Laser Discharge- which, as any Battletech fan knows, is most certainly better than a regular laser. So long as the Prism moves at half speed or less, it can fire its main gun twice at the same target and on the same mode- a straight up doubling of its output. Combined with the stratagems and other tools available to it, this can make the Fire Prism a real killer so long as it isn’t forced to be moving around a ton, which it really doesn’t want to be doing anyways.
Speaking of that main gun (the Prism Cannon), it is a pretty dang flexible weapon that comes with three distinct fire modes for different targets. Dispersed mode is for killing any kind of single-wound models, with S6 AP-3 and d6 shots normally- like all three versions, it can cross the table (60″ range) easily, so only BLOS terrain is any real impediment to it. Focused mode drops in shots to d3, but goes up to S9 AP-4 and d3 dmg, thus being your standard killer of multiwound targets such as vehicles, monsters, or heavy infantry. Finally, the Lance profile is useful for killing extremely heavy targets, provided they aren’t toting an invuln or the likes- it gets only a single shot, but is S12 AP-5(!) and d6 damage. All three modes are Heavy, so the tank definitely wants to keep to one point whenever possible.
In addition to its main gun, a Fire Prism also carries a twin Shuriken Catapult (12″ S4 Assault 4 rends on 6s) underslung as a point-defense weapon; this can be upgraded to a Shuriken Cannon (24″ S6 Assault 3 rends on 6s) for 5pts, which is not an unreasonable proposition. The extra range isn’t awful and means you have a lot better chance of getting to shoot with it, but on the other hand you’d really prefer that the enemy never got close enough for that to be a possibility, so I think there’s some debate to be had on the matter.
A Fire Prism can also select items from the Vehicle Equipment List, though some are more useful to it than others. The Crystal Targeting Matrix is the main contender- for only 5pts, it lets you ignore the penalty for moving and firing a Heavy weapon so long as you shoot at the nearest target, which can help a Prism be a bit more mobile over the course of a game. Spirit Stones are also a solid option, giving you a 6+ ability to ignore wounds for only 10pts. Vectored Engines and Star Engines are a lot less useful and won’t really ever be worth bothering with, since making any use of them means giving up your shooting.
A Fire Prism’s role in an army is pretty simple- it is a dedicated guntank, existing to sit somewhere in the back line and blast away at the enemy. Getting ~7 high-strength high-AP shots against infantry targets or ~4 against vehicles, there are few things that it can’t put some serious fear into, although its performance against hordes is a bit lackluster- a common theme for Eldar. A Fire Prism is potentially one of the more efficient sources of long-range damage for a Craftworlds army at this point, filling the same niche as Dark Reapers and comparing favorably to most other options (Crimson Hunters, Wraithlords, etc) in terms of point efficiency.
One of the big factors in the Prism’s favor is its unique stratagem, Linked Fire. For a single command point, you can activate it when one of your Fire Prisms fires; that Prism “holds” its shots until the end of the shooting phase, waiting until all other units have fired. Any of your other Prisms that shoot their main gun at the same target as that one declared against can reroll all failed hits and wounds as well as draw LOS from the original Prism- as can the original, once you reach the end of the phase. Although being forced to delay some shots without knowing the exact effects can be a bit annoying (as it is very possible that you waste them or otherwise end up not firing to best effect), giving full rerolls to up to three big shooters is a pretty big deal and can really make them into a devastating fire platform. A full trio of Prisms average 20 wounds against typical vehicle targets (or “only” 10 against a Magnus with no buffs/debuffs), which should be more than enough to devastate most things. For this reason, if you’re planning on running Prisms you really want to be running the full trio of them, to take maximum advantage of the stratagem; you might not activate it every turn, but you probably will more often than not and you want to be getting all the mileage out of it you can.
Although the Fire Prism shines (GET IT??) offensively, on the defensive it is a lot less impressive- though T7/3+/W12 is hardly shabby, it won’t stand up to any kind of sustained fire from the enemy, even if you manage to get the benefit of cover. Similarly, once the enemy is in assault with the tank it probably won’t last too long if they are at all competent. Its main defense against attacks- and especially melee- is its long range, as it can outrange even Lascannons and similar heavy weapons; only a handful of artillery and massive direct-fire weapons in the game reach out as far as it does, a fact that you should take full advantage of. Also, don’t forget that it can Fly, allowing it to reach places many units can’t- hovering on top of a building is a perfectly legitimate place for a Fire Prism that finds some assaulters getting uncomfortably close.
Whether or not you need a Prism team in your list will depend a lot on what other sources of firepower you bring; if you have a lot of high-AP multidamage weapons elsewhere, or if you are allying them in from another faction (e.g. some Ravagers or Voidweavers), it may be wholly unnecessary to bring Fire Prisms. But, on the other hand, if you find yourself with mostly anti-infantry shots in the rest of your army, as is often the case for Craftworlds, it can pay to bring in a trio of Prisms to shore up your weaknesses- the flexibility on their main gun is extremely useful, as it allows you to take on many different kinds of targets effectively.
Although Fire Prisms can be pretty powerful, they certainly are not without their weaknesses as well. We already mentioned one of the major ones, namely that they are not particularly resilient. Although the Alaitoc bonus (and potentially Lightning Reflexes) can mitigate this to a significant degree, once you start hitting them with Lascannons or the like, they will go down pretty fast- potentially in just two shots, even. Positioning your heavy weapons in more aggressive fashion such that they can reach to even the far corners of the enemy deployment zone will ensure they can’t escape your reach, and once you start laying firepower into them they will go down pretty easily. Backfield harassment/reserve units can also do a lot of work here, as Prisms are even more vulnerable than most Craftworld unit to having a unit drop in close and cause a lot of damage. They can escape from combat fairly easily, of course, but any time you force them to move you can make them a lot less effective in their shooting, and in some circumstances you may even be able to make them move far enough that they don’t get to double their shots, which is just perfect.
Also remember that as a direct-fire weapon (albeit one with very long range), Prisms are limited by line of sight just like most other guns. They might have the reach to cross the board, but that doesn’t mean they can get to your guys if they’re hiding behind ruins, crates, hills, etc. 8th Edition games really should have a good amount of blocking terrain on the table to prevent things from devolving into a shooting gallery, and Fire Prisms are a great example of this.
Prisms also have several kinds of targets they don’t really like shooting at; things with strong invulns (4++ or even 3++) can make life very hard for them, and as mentioned earlier horde units can also be pretty obnoxious for them. A couple blobs of forty Cultists backed by Magnus is just about the last thing on earth that Fire Prisms want to see across from them, other parts of the army aside. Large numbers of small units (e.g. 5man Strike Teams) are also very problematic for them, as it denies them the ability to use their stratagem effectively, as they can’t focus on any one target in particular. This can also apply more broadly as well- a trio of Prisms is much happier firing at a single vehicle that has twelve wounds rather than three vehicles with four wounds each, even though the latter is nominally easier to deal with in a lot of ways. It isn’t a crippling weakness, but it definitely is a thing that lowers their effectiveness by a fair chunk.
As shown as the London GT, Fire Prisms are more than capable of making top tables at tournaments despite their weaknesses- properly supported by the rest of a list, they can make for an excellent backfield component that provides highly-accurate and damaging fire support wherever it is needed. Though they lack some of the durability and mobility of their competitors, they can more than make up for it in the ability to focus down on a single target and eradicate it in a series of volleys, so if you’re tired of seeing enemy superheavies and blobs of big guys, there are few better choices than a Fire Prism.
As always, remember that you can get your wargaming supplies at a discount every day in the Frontline Gaming shop, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.